We've had a love/hate/love relationship with Yaktrax over the years. Their new Summit traction devices, despite being more of a niche product, nevertheless restores some of the gleam in our eyes for their innovative approach.
Living in Anchorage, Alaska we deal with a solid six months of snow on the ground, yet it gets warm enough to provoke frequent freeze/thaw cycles that result in plenty of ice underfoot. Whether you're watching your Jeep slide sideways while parked at a trailhead, trying to shovel your roof, or just make your walk to work, some kind of traction device is mandatory equipment.
The original Yaktrax were great, usually lasting a few seasons. The only problem was losing them since they had no keeper system. Yaktrax fixed that with the Pro version, but about that time quality seemed to take a dive and you were lucky to get one full season out of them. We're happy to report the new Summit version seems to have made it through a season unscathed, although we'll update next season as we get more long-term usage.
The Summit features stainless steel chains and 3/8 inch carbon steel spikes underfoot. There are also sole plates that function as antibot/antiballing devices. These seem to be moderately effective in wet spring snow. The big innovation is the use of the Boa closure system, which has been popping up on all kinds of footwear the past few years. The Boa uses a dial to snug up the fit and ensure your investment doesn't get left behind.
At 10 ounces for each foot they're approaching the weight of ultralight crampons, however the 3/8 inch teeth and lack of frontpoints allow you to move very quickly, especially when paired with a lighter boot or even trail runners for truly ultralight ascents in marginal conditions. Altogether the Summit system works well for specific situations. It's too bulky for trail running, and lacks the front points needed for serious mountaineering, but for casual peak-bagging and other fast-and-light backcountry use the Summit is a serious contender for your pack.